Wall Street settles in red as inflation reaches four-decade high
All three main indexes ended in the red on Thursday
Consumer prices rose 7.9% year on year in February, the highest rate in 40 years
Fed is expected to raise the Fed funds target rate by 25 basis points
Wall Street fell again on Thursday, finishing in the red as inflation reached a four-decade high, solidifying predictions that the US Federal Reserve would raise key interest rates at the end of next week's monetary policy meeting to keep the economy from overheating.
The looming uncertainty surrounding Russia's invasion of Ukraine also contributed to market players' decision to resume their flight to safety. While all three main indexes ended in the red, they cut their losses late in the day and closed far above session lows, as the U.S. stock market followed its greatest day in months on Wednesday by resuming a multi-session sell-off. "It's more of the same," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago, noting that the daily volatility of the equities market is "driven more by geopolitical than economic news."
According to the Labor Department, consumer prices rose 7.9% year on year in February, the highest rate in forty years. "The (CPI) print was not far off estimates," Nolte noted. "There will be more to come in the next month or two as some of the rising commodity prices get incorporated."
While the market fully expects the Fed to raise the Fed funds target rate by 25 basis points at the end of next week's monetary policy meeting, the CPI data hinted that the FOMC may act "more aggressively" to contain inflation in the next year, as promised by Fed Chair Jerome Powell last week.
"It's still expected the Fed will raise rates four to seven times in the next year or two to curb economic growth," Nolte said, adding that "what complicates this, is the Fed has never raised rates with the yield curve this flat and volatility so high." "They're trying to increase rates at a time when the market is in turmoil."
Amazon.com's stock rose 5.4% after the e-commerce giant announced a 20-for-1 stock split and a $10 billion share buyback, making it one of the day's bright spots. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 112.18 points, or 0.34%, to 33,174.07, the S&P 500 dropped 18.36 points, or 0.43%, to 4,259.52, and the Nasdaq Composite plummeted 125.58 points, or 0.95%, to 13,129.96.